How the Brain Evolved Language

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Oxford University Press, Feb 28, 2002 - Philosophy - 240 pages
How can an infinite number of sentences be generated from one human mind? How did language evolve in apes? In this book Donald Loritz addresses these and other fundamental and vexing questions about language, cognition, and the human brain. He starts by tracing how evolution and natural adaptation selected certain features of the brain to perform communication functions, then shows how those features developed into designs for human language. The result -- what Loritz calls an adaptive grammar -- gives a unified explanation of language in the brain and contradicts directly (and controversially) the theory of innateness proposed by, among others, Chomsky and Pinker.

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Contents

Lought and Thanguage
3
Joness Theory of Evolution
21
The Communicating Cell
36
The Society of Brain
52
Adaptive Resonance
74
Speech and Hearing
90
Speech Perception
109
One Two Three
123
Romiet and Juleo
133
Null Movement
143
Truth and Consequences
161
What If Language Is Learned hy Brain Cells?
171
NOTES
195
REFERENCES
203
INDEX
219
Copyright

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Page 21 - The Sanscrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and in the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists...
Page 45 - When an axon of cell A is near enough to excite a cell B and repeatedly or persistently takes part in firing it, some growth process or metabolic change takes place in one or both cells such that A's efficiency, as one of the cells firing B, is increased.
Page 161 - Consider what effects, that might conceivably have practical bearings, we conceive the object of our conception to have. Then, our conception of these effects is the whole of our conception of the object.
Page 8 - Thus, both doubt and belief have positive effects upon us, though very different ones. Belief does not make us act at once, but puts us into such a condition that we shall behave in a certain way, when the occasion arises. Doubt has not the least effect of this sort, but stimulates us to action until it is destroyed.
Page 87 - ... until it is destroyed. This reminds us of the irritation of a nerve and the reflex action produced thereby; while for the analogue of belief, in the nervous system, we must look to what are called nervous associations — for example, to that habit of the nerves in consequence of which the smell of a peach will make the mouth water.
Page 10 - Besides, you cannot seriously think that every little chicken that is hatched, has to rummage through all possible theories until it lights upon the good idea of picking up something and eating it. On the contrary, you think the chicken has an innate idea of doing this; that is to say, that it can think of this, but has no faculty of thinking anything else.
Page 210 - Van Essen, DC (1985). The complete pattern of ocular dominance stripes in the striate cortex and visual field of the macaque monkey.

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